Cardiovascular disease is an unavoidable topic in the wellness industry, so we cannot continue to avoid how our everyday habits impact our heart health. Men and women are just as likely to develop and even die from cardiovascular disease, and while the root causes are the same, the paths we take as men and women are slightly different as we live differently – physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Five Heart Health Habits for Men:
Checkups! An American Academy of Family Physicians survey revealed that more than half of men do not get regular/annual checkups, which also means these men do not have a bigger picture of their various risk factors. The biometric screening portion of the checkup is critical as specific measurements (cholesterol, weight/height/waist, glucose, etc) can illustrate a lot about men’s health.
Open conversations with your doctor are just as critical. What seemingly “random” signs and symptoms are you experiencing? How does your stress level affect you? Checkups are a perfect opportunity to discuss health concerns you may not feel comfortable relating to those at home. More often than we realize, these conversations with our primary care physicians can lead to potentially life-saving discoveries.
Can you answer the question: When was my last checkup?
Dietary Lifestyle! Research shows that men skip meals just as often as women, but for various reasons. The most common reason men skip breakfast is from a lack of hunger in the morning, followed by lack of time. The same men report they snack more and end the day with a large meal consisting of mostly protein and fats. This kind of unevenly balanced meal can lead to trouble sleeping, raised glucose and cholesterol levels, and of course, feeling full and sluggish in the morning! By choosing a well-balanced breakfast consisting of whole grains, lean protein, and a small amount of healthy fat, you are setting the tone for the rest of the day. Resetting your food choices and being intentional with how you fuel your body in the morning can increase both focus and energy levels.
Can you answer the question: How does my dietary lifestyle support or hurt my heart health?
Exercise! Physical INactivity is a risk for cardiovascular disease. Men tend to exercise more consistently than women, but half of men are still not exercising on a regular basis. Strength training (the form of exercise chosen by most men), albeit beneficial in many ways, does not offer the same benefits as cardiovascular exercise. Heart protection provided through a good sweat and an intentionally raised heart rate is unmatched. Read, Emotional Well-being and Exercise.
Can you answer the question: What kind of cardiovascular exercise, if any, do I include in my exercise regimen?
Stress reduction! While both men and women tend to bottle up their emotions, letting the stress impact their daily lives (sleep, food choices, relationships, etc.), research shows men avoid dealing with stressors more than women. Chronic stress is a significant risk factor for heart disease – a risk factor that is more difficult to “measure” (in comparison to how many servings of vegetables you eat, how often you exercise, as well as your cholesterol and glucose numbers). Having a person in your life to help you work through stressful situations, learn stress management techniques, and put things into perspective is invaluable. This person can be your best friend, spouse, doctor, or therapist.
Can you answer the question: Who do I talk to about my stress levels?
Embrace your influence! While many health conditions and diseases “run in the family,” our genetics only contributes to 10-30% of our risk for most chronic illnesses. This means that 70-90% of our risk is due to lifestyle and environmental factors! That is a lot of influence WE have on our health and well-being. Talk with your doctor about your genetic risk in conjunction with your daily lifestyle.
Can you answer the question: What can I do to embrace my influence and improve my overall health with information received from my doctor?
Libov, Charlotte. “How to Boost Your Man’s Heart Health.” WebMD,
https://www.webmd.com/heart/features/how-to-boost-your-mans-heart-health, Accessed 31 May 2022.